January 18, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Former Darfur former rebels have admitted the split of their group, Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) into two factions as the national government says the schism with not affect a peace framework agreement they signed in July 2011.
More than three years after the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), the principal signatory of the framework agreement is now split into the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) led by Bahar Idriss Abu Garda and the National Liberation and Justice Movement (NLJM) led by Tijani al-Sissi.
The two groups admitted the split and are now officially registered as two political parties ahead of the general elections scheduled for April 2015. However despite the effectiveness of the schism, the two parties continue to exchange hostile statements through the media.
The head of the LJM-Revolutionary Council Bakheet Ismail Dahia who is known for his support to Abu Garda issued a statement Sunday saying that al-Sissi’s decision to relieve the secretary-general is “null and void”.
Dahia further accused Sissi of violating the group’s statutes and rules and decided to relieve him from the chairmanship of the movement, saying he worked “secretly and openly, to destroy consensus and compromise within the movement”.
In a press conference held on Sunday, Ahmed Fadel, the spokesperson of al-Sissi’s group said there were efforts by many Darfuri MPs to reconcile between the two factions but Abu Garda breached an agreement to stop hostile statements and public criticism.
Fadel further accused Abu Garda of seeking to take the control of the movement, adding he campaigned against Sissi and started to appoint his supporters at the different sections of the groups without consulting its leader. He further regretted that the former secretary-general sought to mobilise and draw supporters on ethnic and racial bases.
Al-Sissi is a Fur and Abu Garda is from the Zaghawa tribe.
Since this January, the DDPD is part of the Sudanese constitution, a measure that the Sudanese government was not enthusiastic to endorse, hoping to include the non-signatory groups.
The DDPD is also signed by a splinter faction of the Justice and Equality Movement led by Bakheet Dabajo.
LJM controls the executive and the legislative bodies of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), which is an interim body tasked with the implementation of peace in western Sudan in accordance with the DDPD.
IMPACT ON RDA
When reached by Sudan Tribune on Sunday Dahia said a decisive meeting will be held during the next two days to decide on the fate of al-Sissi as the RDA chairman, after consultation with their peace partner, the National Congress Party (NCP)-led government.
But a supporter of al-Sissi, LJM deputy secretary-general Hashim Hammad, who also serves as secretary-general of the Darfur Reconstruction Fund told reporters on Sunday that his group is entirely satisfied of its partnership with the National Congress Party saying,“Our partnership with the NCP is a sweet and we will continue this sweetness”.
The Sudanese government seems not worried by the dissidence or its impact on the peace process in Darfur.
The head of Darfur peace office and state minister Amin Hassan Omer told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that the conflict within the Liberation and Justice will not affect the DDPA implementation.
“The current differences will not affect the Agreement because the movement itself will turn into two parties,” Omer said.
He stressed that the Abu Garda’s decision to dismiss the DRA chairman, from his position in the movement, will not affect the institutions of the regional authority or representation.
Since its inception, LJM which is a coalition of different small factions, witnessed several rifts during the peace talks and after the signing of the DDPD.
However this split is the most important one between within a group participating in the national government.